Sometimes you stumble onto success, and other times it can take a lot of hard work, dedication, and perseverance. And for most endeavors, it’s a combination of the two.
Amanda Frederickson started her career in the nonprofit world at institutions like the Met Museum and the San Fransisco Ballet. But after taking cooking classes at a recreational center in San Fransisco, CA, Frederickson decided to channel her lifelong love of cooking into her career.
Three years later, Frederickson took the leap and went out on her own. She started a website on Squarespace as a place to house her recipes, but also because it was so easy to get started on the platform, she says.
And while she has definitely put in her fair share of hard work and dedication, she more or less stumbled onto what is now a successful weekly recipe series called Fridge Foraging.
Frederickson started filming herself digging around in her fridge in the evening and looking for inspiration for what to cook for dinner. Sound familiar? You’ve probably found yourself in that same position multiple times a week right around 7PM. And that’s the whole point.
“It’s not a new concept,” Frederickson says. “I came up with a name for what we all do.” But because it was so relatable the series quickly caught on. A year into sharing her weekly cooking adventures to Instagram stories, Frederickson broke the news that she would have to cancel that week’s edition because a friend was in town and they had dinner reservations.
The outcry from her followers was a very clear indication that she was onto something. “People looked forward to it. They were invested in it and knew it was every Wednesday,” she says.
Now she tries not to miss a week, even when she was staying at her dad’s house in Florida and had to use a sea turtle-shaped cutting board and rely heavily on canned food to make a meal.
While coming up with a content series can be a challenge—it has to be broad enough for longevity but also specific enough to capture readers—it can mean a loyal and engaged audience. We asked Frederickson for her advice on how to create a successful, ongoing content series.
1. Find Your Niche
The key to any real success is doing what others aren’t.
“When I started, the food landscape was super ornate and mostly unattainable, but that’s not my brand so I looked at it as a way to show what I stood for,” Frederickson says.
So she started to share her real life, no frills cooking on a weekly basis. Frederickson isn’t shy about having wilted greens or, during a recent kitchen renovation, using only a hot plate and a microwave to make a meal.
“People get home from work and they don’t know where to start. Most of what you have you can make a decent meal with and you’re saving money and reducing food waste,” she says.
Instead of trying to emulate what others were already doing in the food blog and cooking space, she stayed true to herself and her style of cooking.
2. Start Somewhere
Once you solidify where your idea fits into the space, you just have to start. Don’t worry about it being perfect, or making mistakes. You can iterate as you go, but the most important thing you can do is see what sticks.
When Frederickson started she did Fridge Foraging in the evenings, so the lighting for her recipe photos was less than ideal.
“People didn’t care that it wasn’t working,” she says. “They engaged with the idea.”
Then, as Instagram released new features like the poll option, Frederickson started using that to engage with her followers even more. So if you’re ever stumped about what to cook, tune in Wednesday afternoons to her Instagram stories where Frederickson posts two dinner options you can choose for that night’s edition of Fridge Foraging.
And remember, it may not be a hit overnight but if you keep engaging your audience it will gain traction, Frederickson says.
3. Be Consistent
Consistency is key, especially for a series. People are creatures of habit and want to know when something is happening so they can plan around it, Frederickson says.
For example, people quickly came to expect her to do Fridge Foraging on Wednesdays, hence the public dismay when she has to cancel or move the series like she recently had to when a kitchen renovation left her without power.
But when you’re first starting out, remember to be flexible, too. Start by choosing a day, and then figure out what time works best for your readers. Maybe they tend to be online by 8 AM so you want to ensure your post is up by then, or maybe they’re reading on their evening commute, so getting it up early isn’t as important.
4. Give it a Home
Frederickson uses Instagram and its stories function to engage with her readers and fellow fridge foragers. But she also stresses the importance of having a 'home' for your content.
“I see it [my website] as a landing page for content," Frederickson says. “It lives on, so people can go back to it.”
She posts all of her recipes, Fridge Foraging or not, to her personal website so people have something to refer back to. She set up her Squarespace site to have different categories, Fridge Foraging being one of them, so it's clear to readers where those specific recipes live. And not only does she have buttons on the homepage, but her recipe dropdown menu has a landing page with her specific recipe collections.
But the most important thing to remember when creating any type of content is to stay true to yourself. If you consistently create quality content that reflects what you love, you’ll find like-minded people who have similar passions. As Frederickson says, “We’re all just looking for connections.”